9.26am, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Toronto downtown, Ontario, Canada
Wow, I must be tired this morning. Logging on, I stared at the “user name” box for a while before punching my name in. Bring on the Sunday morning sleep in!
So – rewind to Ottawa – the nation’s capital, home of Chris Phillips and the Ottawa Senators ice hockey team. (PS I was given a Chris Phillips Senators jersey to wear whilst doing an in store tasting last year, and they were so happy with the results, they let me keep it! Nice!) I got in from Montreal and went straight to visit one of the top restaurants in town – tasted through some wines with Eric over at Juniper – and you know when you’re in the right place at the right time when you walk in to a restaurant and a thick cloud of “something really good is being cooked up out there” wraps you up from out toward the kitchen. Great start to the day. And it looks like our Wild Ferment Chardonnay might get the opportunity to chime in with some of the lovely dishes on the menu at Juniper, such as “curry glazed fillet of halibut in a curry reduction with tomato ginger chutney, steamed basmati rice, and ginger yoghurt cheese”. And that’s just for starters!
Then we drove over to the other side of town, to catch up with Rod Phillips – New Zealander transplanted to Ottawa – and wine writer. On the day, we ended up in the eye of a storm of very happy lunchtime diners who had packed out the just recently relocated Fraser Cafe, now at 7 Springfield Rd (corner of Beechwood), but still with the brothers Fraser – Simon and Ross – at the stoves. Darrel runs the floor, and you would have been flat out fitting one more person in the place for a couple of hours over lunch – great to see. The cafe is laid out like an old fashioned diner – open kitchen surrounded by a high dining bar, with tables in the front and tables out the back – but with a lovely new look. The whole place is set up with a really personal tone, from the Fraser family crest over the door, to the homemade coat rack using bent forks as hooks.
The lunch menu is one of the good ones, where you could go back several times and choose something different each time – without having to choose by process of elimination! Folks were checking out the plates flying left, right and centre, as everything just looked so good. We were straight to the burger and chicken melt sandwich, and couldn’t help ourselves – we shared the homemade ice cream sandwiches (layer of vanilla between two frozen homemade choc chip cookie) and the homemade doughnuts with caramel apple sauce – but they were only really little and they did come with the holes as well! Yes we did actually spend a serious amount of time going through the wines, and we did choose to meet there, as we’ve been lucky enough to have just had the Barossa Shiraz Viognier listed at Fraser. If you live in Ottawa and have been, you are already converted. If you haven’t been, definitely drop in, and at their prices, you can afford to share a couple of desserts! Think of it as supporting the Ottawan economy – that’s what we did!
OOOH! I’ve lost track of the time, and have to fly – we’re off to do a podcast thingy with Jamie Drummond (from the Jamie Kennedy restaurant). Promise to finish this off tonight